Woodlands County fined $5K after airport staff shoot, kill 5 animals

Woodlands County in northwestern Alberta is facing fines and other penalties after staff shot and killed animals interfering with operations at the Whitecourt airport.

Four deer and one elk were euthanized by airport staff in 2017, county spokesperson Koren Scott said Friday.

The county has been fined $5,000 by Alberta Fish and Wildlife for failing to obtain appropriate licences under the Wlidlife Act.

Mayor Ron Govenlock told CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM the animals had created a major safety concern.

“When personnel and aircraft are at risk you take what measures you deem appropriate,” Govenlock said Friday.

He said part of the problem was large treed areas that remained on the airport property after previous preventive measures.

The airport is owned by the county.

In a news release this week, the county said it accepts responsibility for what happened.

It said previous measures to keep animals from entering airport property included erecting a new fence, herding animals out of the fenced-in area, getting recommendations from Fish and Wildlife officers and issuing a wildlife management plan for the airport.

The county said that in addition to the $5,000 penalty, it has agreed to remedial measures to control wildlife at the airport, including the installation of a Texas gate at the main access road and the installation of a one-way wildlife gate.

Govenlock said part of the problem was large treed areas that remained on the airport property after previous preventive measures. The county has agreed to remove the trees, he said.

The mayor said he understands the need to hold the county responsible.

“It is not a step that county officials would endorse,” he said. “But we’re responsible for all of our staff. Sometimes inappropriate decisions are made and there’s a price to be paid for that.”

The county has set aside funds to complete the remedial work this year.

The Whitecourt airport is about 200 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.